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What is Pragmatics? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 The Purpose of Language
  • 0:43 Pragmatics
  • 1:39 Examples
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Social Studies, and Science for seven years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

You use pragmatics on an everyday basis, but do you know how? Watch this video lesson to not only learn the meaning of pragmatics but also how you use it every day.

The Purpose of Language

Language is a unique quality that sets apart the human race from all other species. Language has allowed mankind to communicate and express ideas, which has had a major factor in our development over time. However, language does not merely consist of words and phrases. Different types of expression are embedded in our language; most of which we use without even noticing.

For any specific language, natural speakers will inherently know the uses and the rules for many types of expressions. These rules determine the interaction between people and between societies. This lesson will look at one aspect of those rules: pragmatics.

Pragmatics

Pragmatics is a branch of linguistics, which is the study of language. Pragmatics focuses on conversational implicature, which is a process in which the speaker implies and a listener infers. Simply put, pragmatics studies language that is not directly spoken. Instead, the speaker hints at or suggests a meaning, and the listener assumes the correct intention.

In a sense, pragmatics is seen as an understanding between people to obey certain rules of interaction. In everyday language, the meanings of words and phrases are constantly implied and not explicitly stated. In certain situations, words can have a certain meaning. You might think that words always have a specifically defined meaning, but that is not always the case. Pragmatics studies how words can be interpreted in different ways based on the situation.

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